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Draft House, Senate Farm Bills Do Not Propose Major Changes To Food Aid Program, New York Times Reports

“In response to the Obama administration’s plans to overhaul the nation’s international food aid program, which provides food to disaster-stricken regions, Congress this week began laying the groundwork for its own changes,” the New York Times reports. “Farm bills passed this week by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees do not go as far as the Obama administration’s proposal, which would move the $1.4 billion program from the budget of the Agriculture Department to the foreign affairs budget in an effort to speed delivery and cut costs,” the newspaper writes, noting, “The bills reauthorized the food aid program and left it largely intact, in the agriculture budget.” According to the New York Times, “[t]he Senate bill would extend a pilot program that lets [USAID] use some money to buy food locally,” and both the Senate and House bills address the issue of “monetization,” the practice in which non-governmental organizations sell American relief food in local markets in order to fund some of their non-food programs.

“Several antihunger charities, which have long supported major changes to the food aid program, said they were disappointed by the Senate and House farm bills, but not surprised by them,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Supporters of the current food aid program, like shippers, agriculture trade groups and some antihunger charities, said they were pleased that the Agriculture Committees kept it in the farm bill.” According to the newspaper, “[t]he House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday introduced its own bill to overhaul the food aid program,” and “[t]he House and Senate Appropriations Committees are also expected to take up food aid overhauls, but no timetable has been given” (Nixon, 5/17).